Through Mother Nature and breeding by mankind, some plants and animals have grown larger and larger over time. Big beefsteak tomatoes evolved from a fruit the size of a cherry tomato; the original pig was the size of a cat.
The large citrus fruits of today evolved over millions of years from small, edible berries. Their origin is believed to be either southeastern Asia or Australia [source].
The three original species in the citrus genus—citron (photo #1), mandarins and pomelo/pummelo—have been hybridized into most of the modern commercial citrus fruits we know.
Within the last few thousand years, all common citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, limes, sweet oranges, etc.) were created by crossing those original species.
The winter months deliver certain varieties of citrus that aren’t available in other seasons.
Blood oranges, cara cara oranges and ruby red grapefruit are among our favorite fruits. Here, from Good Eggs of San Francisco, are the California-grown fruits you should add to your shopping cart.
You can enjoy these beauties in:
MEET THE CITRUS:
Just as blood, cara cara and navel are different varieties of sweet oranges in the citrus genus (Citrus × sinensis), mandarins are a separate species.
Mandarins (Citrus reticulata) are loose-skinned fruits with segments that separate easily. Some of the better-known varieties are clementines, dancys, minneolas, tangerines and satsumas.
While many people call them mandarin oranges—erroneously combine both species—the correct name is mandarin or mandarins.
Think of them as cousins to oranges; and think of clementines, tangerines, satsumas and other mandarins as siblings.
*Hand fruit is the industry term for fruit that can be eaten from the hand: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, etc. Fruits that are not hand fruit: coconuts, cranberries, melons, pineapples, quinces, etc.